The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached a ‘benami’ land in Coimbatore measuring 45 acres, worth ₹55 crore, belonging to former union minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) member of parliament A Raja in a money laundering probe, the agency said in a statement on Thursday.
The agency said Raja, during his tenure as union cabinet minister for environment and forests between 2004 and 2007 granted environmental clearances to a Gurugram-based Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) listed real-estate company.
Raja, currently a DMK MP from Nilgiris Lok Sabha seat, rejected the ED charge. “This is not my land. They (ED) claim it’s benami land,” said Raja, describing ED’s move as “politically motivated”.
A benami property means that the real beneficiary is not the one in whose name the property has been purchased.
Raja was earlier investigated by the CBI and the ED in connection with the 2G spectrum allocation scam during erstwhile UPA government.
Without naming the company, Thursday’s statement by ED said the real estate company, which is one of the largest in the country, “has given kickback (s) A Raja as quid pro quo for awarding the environmental clearance, around the same period in 2007, in the garb of land commission income in the hands of one benami company of A Raja.”
“It is found that Raja incorporated the company in the same year – 2007 – in the name of his family members and his close family friend, with the sole objective of using it as a vehicle to park the proceeds of crime. The company was never engaged in any business activity since inception and the entire money received in the company was quid pro quo from the real estate deal and was used for acquiring land in Coimbatore district,” the ED statement added.
Thus, ED further said, “properties worth 45 acres of land in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, worth ₹55 crore have been purchased directly using the proceeds of crime (illegal payment made as quid pro quo for obtaining environmental clearances) have been provisionally attached by the Directorate.”